The Brasil Global Tour has arrived in Vienna.
The players suffered a two-hour delay flying in from London and reported to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Austria’s capital at around midnight on Friday.
Saturday saw them head for Ernst Happel Stadion for training ahead of Sunday’s clash with Austria, which will be the Selecao's final match before they open their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17.
Filipe Luis pic.twitter.com/sC5uez8U1j— Brasil Global Tour (@BGT_ENG) June 9, 2018
With the tournament fast-approaching, coach Tite has been increasingly regimented with his players’ schedule. Training sessions have been held exactly 24 hours before games and the team is working to an exact seven-day cycle this month, with matches scheduled for June 3 and June 10 ahead the big-kick-off.
And with just a week to go, Tite and his staff still have some fine-tuning to do.
After almost three months on the sidelines with a foot injury, Neymar returned last week as a second-half substitute against Croatia at Anfield and made an immediate impact. After a tricky first 45 minutes for the Selecao, Neymar opened the scoring with a sensational solo effort that inspired his side to a 2-0 victory.
On Sunday the PSG man is due to make his first start in a match since February and the medical staff will be keen to see signs that he is back at 100 per cent and ready for Russia.
Tite will continue with his 4-1-4-1 against Austria, but recent months have seen a major alteration in the quartet with two changes in personnel, one a result of the other. The previously immovable Renato Augusto now appears to have lost his place in the side, with Philippe Coutinho moved in-field to operate as a central-midfield playmaker.
Coutinho’s move has made way for Willian to return to the side, and he will once again line up on the right side after a rich return to form for his country. This was initially the idea against perceived weaker opposition only, but now may have become Brazil’s default, particularly for the group stage where Brazil believe all three opponents will defend deep. Fernandinho is still an option to slot back into the centre against stronger sides in the knockout stages, however.
Just four games away from the World Cup, a big change came at the heart of the defence where Thiago Silva replaced Marquinhos, who had formed a formidable partnership alongside Miranda. Thiago came into the side in the March Brasil Global Tour matches against Russia and Germany, and has now won his place back after having not been a starter for Brazil since Copa America 2015.
This defence has now kept 14 clean sheets in 19 matches for Tite and Thiago’s reintroduction appears to be due to having the edge over Marquinhos in terms of distribution. The goalless draw against England in November has left Tite desperate to find a side that can penetrate a deep, five-man defence, and Thiago’s ability to pass long from the back seems to have been his saving grace.
Sunday’s clash in Vienna provides Tite the last chance to investigate the nuances in an otherwise settled side with a well-defined idea of play. Austria may not have made it to the World Cup, but they will be tough opponents. Reborn under new coach Franco Foda, they have marched to seven consecutive victories.
Brazil’s technical staff believe the Austrians pose a similar test to those they will find in their opening match of the World Cup, against Switzerland, with a deep line who will look largely to stifle the Selecao and pounce forward on the counter-attack.